What’s in a number?

After hearing what the LTD stands for in our name, the second question is always why the 7? Living the dream is truly what I have been blessed with in opening my boutique. Blessed to have the opportunity to mentor, Blessed to have such wonderful customers, Blessed to live the American dream, Blessed to have a family that supports me, and blessed to love what I do each and every day.


As many know, the name actually has a dual meaning.  It combines my love for mentoring and helping others obtain their dream by allowing small businesses and artists to come into a safe environment, under the umbrella of LTD 7, while exploring the business side of retail. As a cottage industry, meaning starting a business out of your home, the biggest obstacle to an artist is where can I sell my art?; How can I get the word out there; I can’t afford to quit my full-time job to open a shop and so on. Providing this avenue to our artists is something that is near and dear to my heart. My goal is to have these creative geniuses gain confidence and learn the business side of selling their items.….and once they are comfortable, release them into the world to do the same with continued guidance if needed. For some, this happens and for some, they see that the business side is not for them, instead, they choose to remain under the umbrella of retailers such as LTD 7 consigning their items.  In this particular meaning…..Ltd7 stands for “Limited to 7” We never have more than 7 artists under the umbrella of LTD7.


The second and original meaning is personal to me as the founder and has proved to be personal to others employed by LTD 7 as well.  I truly want Ltd7 to be run with great values and kindness. A faith-based business with employees sharing the same values as the business. I knew from owning and managing other stores that retail is a hard business. As the business leader, It’s sometimes hard to stick to personal beliefs, all while meeting the demands of the bottom line. Retail ownership is not glamorous and it is not at all what it looks like from the outside. It’s so much more than buying merchandise, opening the doors and selling it to great customers.  It’s challenging, disappointing, stressful and rewarding all wrapped up into one little package. If you don’t have a strong foundation to guide and help you to overcome these obstacles, many won’t survive.  For me….God is my rock, my salvation and my sustainer. God is my guiding light at LTD 7 above anything and anyone else. I ask for guidance daily.  Sometimes he has allowed me to puddle through some tough situations in my business. Although my faith would waver, he took me by the hand, each and every time, into these uncomfortable waters and led me. I needed to trust him with HIS plans for my business and not rely on the world’s plans for how my business should be.  It has not been easy, but my faith has guided me and provided peace during these difficult situations and changes within the business. Even more important, I thank him each and every day for the blessings bestowed upon my business. He is the one I go to when I need advice or when I need to make a decision regarding the business, just as one would go to the CEO to consult and get advice. God is my CEO.  The real world does work its way into our lives both professionally and personally, like comparing ourselves to the business down the street or comparing ourselves to what we see on the Internet. These are real worldly struggles that each of us in business goes through. God does not want us to compete with anyone or any business….he created us all to be unique and he knows our heart. I allow him to guide me and make my path straight. I like to follow the road less traveled and focus on my journey.

So who coined this phrase, “It’s all about the 7” that has now become a hashtag for the business?  Actually, a very close friend coined this phrase during one of our early morning coffee dates……..It hit straight into the heart and has stuck ever since becoming the motto behind the business. It truly is “all about the 7”.

Why the number 7?  You know how many of us see cardinals, pennies on the ground, Butterflies, rainbows, or ladybugs and feel a peace about a loved one in heaven?  Many call it a Godwink. Sevens are my personal sign from God and they have been from the inception of the business as well as in my personal life now.  In hindsight, I am amazed at how many times I have seen the number 7 in difficult times or times where I needed affirmation about a decision. My brother started this 7 trend in our family. I always admired him and his journey into becoming a Godly Christian Man. His business is 7odd, again using the 7 as a symbolic number from the bible. When he signed his name the T always looked like a 7, so his personal business is also a reflection of the Godliness at the center of his business. He looks to him for everything, business or personal. A beautiful testimony to allowing God to be in control.

This blog post is not to say that God has said there is a significant meaning to the number 7 in the bible, although it is in there quite a few times, but for me, it is my personal number that acts as a constant reminder to remember my roots, and remember who ultimately is control of my personal life and more importantly LTD7.

Join me as we launch our new LTD 7 tee shirt….a good conversation piece to tell people about your favorite business and the importance of having Jesus Christ in your personal and professional life! Available on our website March 9Thand can be seen on our Live Fashion Show, 7 pm Friday, March 9th.


Some fun facts about the number 7 in the bible:

  • God rested on the 7th day
  • 777 represents the threefold perfection of the Trinity
  • The number 777, as triple 7, can be contrasted against triple 6
  • the number seven is a number of perfection and completeness.
  • Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – They are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord
  • 7 appears over 487 times in scripture, more times than any other number.
  • Seven miracles: Changing water into wine, Healing the royal’s son in John, healing the paralytic, feeding the 5000, walking on water, healing the blind and the raising of Lazarus.

Wishing you “7” new blessings this year!

Live your dream friends,


On the road to success, life happens (cont’ series 5 of 5)

This will be the toughest blog post for me to write. Why, well, I am a very private person and don’t share a lot with many. On the other hand, I do feel like it is something I can offer to others. I promised myself I would write my story as a retail entrepreneur and business owner, truth, transparency and all.   The path has not always been easy and may look like things are all butterflies and rainbows, but you know what? Business ownership is a hard road, It’s the only job you will work 80+ hours to avoid working 40 for someone else. It’s a career where you are not one, but all of these combined:  The finance dept, the board of directors, the CEO, the human resource dept, the sales staff, the buyer, the marketing dept, the janitorial staff,  the handyman, the shipping/ receiving, department and the IT department, not to mention, mom and/or wife, for some.  But you know what? I love it and I would do it all over again if I was younger. My wish is that someone will benefit from my mistakes and experience and have an easier road if they choose this career path.

February 2013, Once I broke the news to my husband that I wanted to open another store, I had to decide exactly what I was going to sell and start the business plan, decide on the name, legalities  and licenses, merchandise, fixtures etc.  He understands my whims and my emotional decisions and has supported me from Day one in each and every one of these adventures.

What to name the newest adventure? I wanted a corporate name that was meaningful to us…..the last corporate name we had was Dancin’ Feet and it locked us in and needed an explanation anytime we went anywhere, lol.  I preferred ab abbreviation this time around with meaning to us. LTD7 was our choice = Living the Dream with God . The seven is a symbolic reference to God for me…..A reminder to keep God first in my business. (Did you know the number 7 is referenced 735 times in the bible and is the foundation for God’s word? Do you know that it is the number for completeness and perfection, both physical and spiritual?)

My first choice was a type of store that I had not done before. I always wanted to try a gift and home decor store. My love for vintage was also brewing in my heart.  I had visited many shops and loved the look……maybe it’s because I grew up with the things I was seeing……Or that my dad is an avid antique collector. I loved Pinterest when it was introduced and was inspired by so many pins that mixed the vintage with the new for decorating, Shabby chic, chipped paint, vintage colors, I loved it all.

Once I spotted this space for rent……my retail blood started flowing and LTD 7 was born. I really wanted to provide an avenue to help others just starting out, for cottage industries to make the next step in their business.  I was amazed at the talent of people with a business in their home. Why not share my retail experience with them and help them move onto the next step.  We were one of the firsts in Staunton and people seemed to love the items we brought in from yesteryear combined with some newer items as well. Pickin’ and junkin’.  I decided to limit it to 7 vendors in the shop with me. (ltd 7, the dual meaning) I am proud to say that we were there to see a few branch off on their own after having them in our market or in our shop. SweetNanaCakes, a second was FanZone, Demetra went to part-time at her current job to work more hours on her art, The Harvest Widow did her first show at one of our markets and is now a successful mompreneur and vendor of  LTD7, with a great business,  Gail also first exhibited at our market and now has a successful bakery, The Briarpatch Bakery. There is nothing that brings me more happiness than seeing other women-owned business being successful and growing.

After opening, I realized that we were onto something. We were honored with numerous awards which always makes one feel good. I was awarded the Entrepreneur of the year from the Chamber of Commerce and won Best Independent Gift shop from Virginia Living Magazine. This fueled my passion even more.  Fast forward to 2015….things were going well, more awards were awarded, and I saw an opportunity for growth.  We were a bit isolated from the tourist population in the North end versus those on the main street downtown.  Afterall,  I  was in business for a reason…..to make a living and provide jobs for others.  We wanted to reach more people.  I decided to open a second location to cater to more tourists coming off I-81 and the Fishersville Waynesboro area.  In 2015 Rowe road was opened.

In 2016 a second opportunity arose to purchase a beloved Staunton icon…..Grandmas Bait.  The well-known children’s shop that most locals all shopped at for generations., open and run by one owner for 36 years.  Early in my career, I had always dreamed of owning this store one day. It was so exciting to have the opportunity now. I felt I was ready and my expertise would lend itself to the legacy which would take it into the next decade. I had big plans for this store and felt we were on a good road. People would jokingly say I was building the LTD 7 empire. It was truly my passion and I felt Like God was leading me the whole way. This my gift to others.

What I did not know was my world was about to drastically change………Without getting into the details, “life happened”.  I now owned three stores, my father in law had Alzheimer’s and needed my care,  my daughter was in her senior year, my husband was living in Miami full time, my elderly dog was not well and I was living in an apartment while our house was being built.  With just these few things, life was challenging to say the least. The clincher was a personal family situation that just about took me over the edge. Personally, it threw me off track which caused me to lose my focus, made me numb, I could no longer think straight, I could no longer be creative, my passion was exchanged for a survival mode with long days of prayer, many tearful days and relying on a team to keep the stores going while I tried to keep my head above water. It’s amazing how “Life happens” out of left field and your whole world changes. You start to question everything.  I did not understand any of it at the time, but I knew I had to continue praying and trusting God as well as my team to make decisions.

Letting go of “your dream” is hard…….very hard. I had two choices….shut it all down and tend to my life or turn it over to the managers. This is what I did while I walked under a black cloud and kept a smile on my face for outsiders.  This staff in my life, at the time, know exactly who they are and I am forever grateful to each and every one of them. They prayed, they worked hard and they were my hands and feet.  LTD 7 is still in existence because of them.

2017 was still hard but as I write this I can say that God does not leave you in times of trouble. He never left me and I am actually grateful to have gone through it all, a lot of lessons were learned.  Times were not back to normal yet and s changes were still going through my world.  My husband lost his job, I had a manager moving out of state, another one resigned and my family decided to move to Florida where my husband started a new job.  Living under these conditions with me was hard on my team, I was not myself and I lost a lot of people in my life because of it, this I do regret.

Time to grab the bull by the horns, learn from the experience, make some decisions and climb out of the black hole that consumed me.  To the surprise of many, I made the decision to close The Augusta street store, and unfortunately sell the Children’s store so I could focus on one store 100%.  Many would say that I grew too fast….I can see how it truly looked that way but in truth, “Life happened”. One of the hardest decisions to make in my life was to sell my dream business( Grandmas Bait) when in my heart, I was not ready to let go…..I had to let go…. for my family.  I know change is hard, for so many. It was hard on me too but I had to get my priorities straight, God First, Family second, Business third.

Letting go of my store’s daily operations during this time period prepared me to trust others with “my business”. My role as manager/owner now became an owner. During 2016-2017, one of the biggest lessons I learned was that God was preparing me to allow others to manage the store. To let go and Let God.  Most small business owners have problem with delegating, as I did. I figured it was easier to do it myself. That was me before.

It’s taken me a while to get back my standards of operation but I can honestly say I am  100% back, I have a great team and I am LOVING every minute of growing my business, leading my managers & caring for our customers. The passion to succeed is flowing  strong. Behind the scenes, it was heartbreaking……hard decisions had to be made and a lot of change to the infrastructure and dynamics of the store. There has been a lot of loss and hardship personally and professionally but LTD 7 is back on the road to success for its customers.  Business ownership is a lonely road and it is hard to articulate to non-business owners, the sacrifice and dedication needed to make a dream a reality. There is loss, there is sacrifice and there is hardship.

2019, we are a thriving Fashion & Gift Boutique……very different from the start of our vintage, home décor roots.  I remember with the adoption of our daughter,  I was told, “Adoption will pick you, keep your mind open “……I also remember when we were picking out our  golden retriever puppy…….we were 100% sure we wanted a dark rusty colored golden retriever and the breeders looked at us and said, “Trust us, the puppy will pick you…..keep your mind open” He was so right, we were smitten by a beautiful light golden and he became our beloved Bo.  Same with our daughter’s adoption, we thought we wanted a closed adoption through a Christian agency and we ended up being blessed with a beautiful baby girl through a private, open adoption.

I say this because, the same has happened to my business….It has evolved into this fun, faith-based, fashion,  gift & home Boutique, Not at all what I originally planned. What we carry is determined by the demand of our customers, our customers vote with their dollars, which in turn sets the direction of our store’s inventory.  I do realize many people miss the old store’s style and the store downtown but sometimes, God has different ideas than our own.  I had to be open to his plans, even though I miss the old store.  God continues to guide me, my dream and my store. As long as he is saying keep going…..I will keep going…….I listen to him for all decisions and Thank him on a daily basis for our customers and our store. I pray that LTD 7 will serve as a happy place to all of you, full of friendships for many years to come.

Screen Shot 2019-02-16 at 11.49.40 PM ~ Feb-16



Advice to my younger self

  • If you are going through hell…..just keep going
  • Trust your gut
  • Business ownership is a lonely road
  • Don’t ask God why he’s allowing something to happen, ask him what he wants you to learn
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help………It’s ok to rely on others
  • Learn to delegate
  • Not everyone can be trusted
  • Be kind but find your voice
  • Don’t hire friends unless you are willing to lose the friendship.
  • Keep God first, Family second. Hold them close and love them deeply
  • You are the only one who will ever feel the level of passion for your business….Don’t expect anyone to have the same level.
  • Stop feeling bad for outgrowing people who had the chance to grow with you

Keep living the dream friends,

Until next time…..


The struggle is real…….(cont’ series 4 of 5)

Fast forward 1997, The news that I was not a candidate for in vitro hit hard. My uterus was damaged to a point I could not carry a child full term. Ok, plan B turned into Plan F. Adoption? Surrogacy? We joined every possible support group & attended adoption seminars, this was pretty much our last chance. Time was ticking…

What I do know….now, is when God’s plan is “his” plan it happens flawlessly and it flows like a beautiful river of peace.  February 1997, no go with IVF…one month later…..March 1997, we hear of a birth mom who will be giving birth somewhere around September. Skipping most details and fast forwarding through tons of phone calls, adoption details, attorneys, agencies, home-studies and interviews and we were chosen as the family to adopt her child that month! Things were flowing! I was going to be a mom after all! After the excitement subsided, the fear and the doubt crept in! I was still working at The GSO Country Club but my heart said, you need to go…..you need to go to meet this Mother to be…..make sure it is a Legit situation and make sure this is not a scam.   I did and I lived in Washington State for 9 weeks.  September 1997, our daughter was born, my dream of becoming a mom was reality!

fullsizeoutput_1e2I should be totally satisfied…….My dream, fulfilled and don’t get me wrong. I was ecstatic to be her mom. I love her with everything in me……I loved being a mom but I could not deny the fact that I loved to work too. Is it ok to want to do both?  I tried many things through the first couple years of raising my daughter. I tried the role as stay at home mom, then I pursued the MML route by selling Beauti-Control products from home, having parties at night when my husband was home. I quickly realized this was not my cup of tea, I did not even wear a lot of makeup! I have always wanted to own my own business so I tried. After this endeavor, I created another at home business called “My secret Garden” selling hand painted garden items out of my home and back home through my sister in law.  It was in my blood! Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. huh?

Skipping though details, due to lack of time in this blog, Duane and I decided to move, once again. We headed back home with our daughter to raise her in my home town. We would be closer to both sides of  grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. We were pretty sure she would  be our only child so we wanted her to have family to connect to.   At one and a half, we were back in Staunton. We had a fixer upper  and that was fun but once we finished, I was restless again.  Two year old preschool was the perfect fit, I would work while she was in Preschool. Few hours but enough to calm the restlessness.  I worked for The Fashion Gallery from 8:30 – 12, assisting the owner.

What you may have figured out, when I work, I give my all…. sometimes to the detriment of my well being.  I will never forget my first parenting Epic Fail!  I missed the opening of my daughter’s mother’s day tea program because I was stuck on a phone call for work. THIS was the epic fail , the heart wrenching moment, that had a profound impact on me.  I worked too hard to become a Mom, I had to give up the desire to work and devote 150% to my daughter.  So home I went to try the stay-at-home mom role again. Pouring my all into her life. Dance lessons, mommy play dates, kinder-music…anything to make my daughter’s life full.

Little did I know my entrepreneur mind would catch me again down the road……I honestly tried hard to quiet the noise in my mind. While sitting at my daughter’s dance lessons, I realized I might be able to help out Jann S. with The Ballet Box while at home: billing, brochures, marketing etc.  I created a position and then that position led to the grand idea, to start selling dance wear and shoes in the hallway of BBX! I would only sell while Erika was in class.Yeah ok….. Staunton needed it after all, so who better than me to start it! If you know me, I don’t know how to do anything small. I was at it again, with the inception of Dancin’ Feet, My first real small business adventure with my Sister in law and I was excited.  Sarah, eventually realized this was just not her passion so it was me……do it or die trying. Retail is my passion.   I truly believe God places these desires in your heart and then he makes it a reality……if it is HIS will. My store grew right along side of my daughter. The struggle was always very real, no matter how many times i tried to quiet it, career woman vs full time mom.  My heart kept leading me back to work. I loved to work, I loved new start ups, I had the experience, I wanted to help others, It was fulfilling in my eyes. I was a super mom, I could do it all…be a mom, run a business….or so I thought. fullsizeoutput_d256

This small business in the hallway of BBX soon grew to a room in the dance studio when the BBX was bought out by Valley Dance Theatre, to the 600 square foot space at 54 Rowe Road to the Staunton Mall where we rebranded to a 3000 square foot store called “You’re a Star” which featured gifts for girls participating in all sports, not just dance.  So in the matter of 6 years, I allowed my my store to grow into a success story but again the pressure of raising my daughter and running a 3000 square foot fully engaged store became too much for me to bear.  Something had to give…..Bringing my daughter to work, making a dressing room a play room proved to be too much for her and I once again….had to return to my first priority……. My daughter.  The store was sold and back to full time mommy I went. Guys, I’ll tell you, this was a real struggle for me! I would try, succeed, and have to stop,  try, succeed and have to give up. Its’ ok, I think everything is a lesson. Not a failure but a lesson.

The break from the rat race of small business ownership was nice, but I again worked from home doing websites, marketing materials etc for business in side my home when my daughter was in school.  I also dove into the role of PTA, Room Mom, Erika’s sports and volunteering at my church.

Yep you guessed it…Type A personality at it’s best! Here I go again….getting involved……I don’t know how to say NO! I jumped into something else…..can you see a pattern?….This girl hates to sit still. A  great friend of mine had an idea and along with a few others we decided to start Lil Lambs, a children’s Consignment sale at our church. This was a huge success but again……hard for the same crew to continually devote that much time to the cause year after year. It was another success but no one was willing to take it over to give us the break. We are proud to say, this organization is still going on at Victory Worship as Made for Kids consignment. It brings me joy to see this worthy mission continuing to serve the community

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 2.03.52 PM ~ Sep-18

One of the reasons, I felt it was time for me to leave Lil lambs was another area to serve. One of my daughter’s babysitters and also an employee of mine was diagnosed with Cancer while in College. I felt a strong pull to stand beside her and the family as she fought. After a couple years, MaDee Boxler’s fight ended peacefully as she passed at the age of 22. Fully engaged and devastated, My husband and I asked the family if we could start a non profit in her name to help community family’s coping with the diagnosis of Pediatric Cancer with their child. Thus the MaDee Project was born and continues today serving the kids of our community who are so desperately fighting this disease.  The Non profit is run by her family at this time.

Ok, time for a small break…..rest ……regroup…….. This momma was exhausted and done with starting new businesses, non profits, missions etc. This momma needed some time for herself and her family. Duane’s Dad was battling dementia and needing a little more assistance in an assisted living facility.  Our daughter was in her middle school years…getting ready for the big high school years.

I was enjoying my life, despite my struggle to work, I was very blessed to have the choice to be a stay at home mom. But have you ever heard…Once retail gets in your blood, it never leaves? Well, my daughter was turning 16, which means a drivers license right ? As I was driving by a vacant storefront, I noticed a FOR RENT sign, I knew of this building since my brother had done a full renovation on it, plus I knew the owner. I turned my car around, pulled into the parking lot and called the number. Asked all the normal questions etc how big is it, How much are you asking per square foot etc. Hung up the phone and my wheels were turning, called my husband and yep…..a few months later LTD 7 was born, June 1013. How can I use my experience to help others who may be wanting to turn their cottage industry into a business, Painted furniture was growing, Vintage was all the rage and Pinterest was the new way to create vision boards!  Perfect, My daughter and I could run the shop, she would have job security, Picture perfect……I would pass the store down to her……I could finally put put my creativity juices and retail experience to work and teach my daughter work ethics, accountability and the importance of community service.

Stay tuned for The history of LTD 2013 – Present.

What I would tell my younger self.

Parenting is hard, owning a business is hard, doing both requires commitment & balance

It’s Ok to be a working mom

Don’t be afraid, follow your dreams. Listen and God will lead you.

You will have many naysayers, “you should be staying at home with your kids, your dreams are foolish….

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, My advice; you continue to do “you” and live your best life.

Don’t stifle the desires God places in your heart, Connect your passion with God’s purpose.

Learn while you are young to say No if it is not Gods desire for your life.

Everything you do takes you one step closer to your dream.

Until Next Time, Keep living your dream













Dreams on Hold ( cont’ series 3 of 5)

Off to Greensboro, NC……..time to sell our home in Staunton & leave our family and jobs. I can remember the day Duane and I decided to drive to Greensboro to look around for a place to live. I was skeptical and had just re-planted my roots in Staunton. I was sad, but knew this was something we had to do career wise.  It was a beautiful sunny spring day and he drove in the back way to Greensboro. The first thing I saw was beautiful blooming trees and well manicured landscapes….He knows me and we both know first impressions matter.  I love flowers, trees and a good sunny day! First thought, Oh how pretty! Whew… Duane showed a sigh of relief (when momma ain’t happy no one is happy :-)).  Things were moving quick, we decided to move into an apartment until we could learn more about the area and where we wanted to plant new roots.

During the next 6 months, Duane’s job at Advanced Home Care in Greensboro in the finance department was going well, we loved Greensboro and on weekends, we continued to look for housing and a job for me. At this point, I was skeptical and not confident enough to open or buy a store in Greensboro. I looked and inquired but until I was comfortable with the area, I was going to wait. It did not feel right.  I always said it takes me a good 5 years to be totally comfortable in a new area. So instead of growing a business, we were happy growing our life together, growing Duane’s career and growing our family and friendships.

Greensboro was full of new, first time home owner neighborhoods and we found the exact place we wanted to live. We both preferred new housing so we decided to build. Building a first home was exciting, we chose our plan, the colors and the details within the home.  It was as close to a custom house as we were going to get at our age.  Once we moved in, I scoured the newspaper for jobs that seemed like a good fit. I answered an ad for an assistant in the Tennis Pro shop at Greensboro Country Club, one of the most prestigious clubs in Greensboro. Hours were 8 am – 3 pm and Monday-Friday. Coming out of retail, this job was perfect. A first for me…….weekends off!

Our home was beautiful, our jobs were great, we met the greatest people in our new neighborhood……all of us were adults in the same stage of Life. DINKs as they referred to us (Double income, no kids). Great friendships (David and Jeanna, Amy and Steve, Kathy and Brian, Norm and Judy, Shannon and Bruce, Lisa and Brian, Renita and Adam & Tarina) Wonderful Church family, weekend cookouts, birthday & holiday parties, & summer block parties were the norm for us! Life was grand!  My dream of owning a store remained embedded in my heart, but I was at peace and content without one right now. I was getting more experience with my new position. Ends up my boss, Tom C. was the director of the tennis program and he was assigned to build the new tennis pro-shop. Perfect…..With my experience, he was kind enough to include me and I was able to offer suggestions and advice from my years in retail and my desire to own a store one day. We literally went from the “Tennis Shack” to a beautiful 1000 square foot bright retail boutique. It was my first time assisting anyone in the planning of a store from ground up and going through the all the stages. So fun, my heart was really happy.  I was exactly where I needed to be and learned so much working with Tom and his the pro staff.

Everyone in the neighborhood had been married a couple of years, built our new homes, and had great jobs. The next logical step for all of us was….children…….I mean, most of us were already “fur mama’s and daddy’s” so that qualifies for being ready….. right?  It was time to build our families. Our next door neighbors, Kathy and Brain were the first……they already had a son and she was expecting her second child, a baby girl.  Next Jeanna with Corbin, Shannon, Lisa, Amy with Jared and so on and so on……..Baby showers were the new norm!  Unfortunately, things did not move as fast for us…….Month after month my hopes were shattered. As a young person dreaming of marriage and starting a family, this was not in MY plan. ( HARD Lesson #1, it’s HIS plan not mine)

My job was God-sent, I got off work at 3:00 pm, perfect for the numerous doctors appointments that would follow during the next 7 years. Infertility specialist after infertility specialist. I was diagnosed with severe Endometriosis at the age of 27 which explains the painful monthly cycles that worsened with each year, So painful that narcotic pain meds were needed each and every month when we were not trying to conceive.  As expected, they were stopped for 7 years while I was trying to conceive, pain at a level 10+ each month, just to end in the disappointment.  Books beside my beside went from: Opening your own business and small business ownership, to reading books like Hope for couples with Infertility. Our new vocabulary in our home; Cycles, Fibroids, Ovulation, High risk, Eggs, Hysterosonogram, Hysterosalpingogram, Clomid, IUIs and IVF. The dream of a store was the farthest thing from my mind, I just wanted to be a mom.

We all have dreams…..and sometimes things happen in life that postpone any progress with these dreams……How you handle it is what is important. Now looking back, I am not sure I handled it very well……Life moved on and I just went about the day to day hoping and praying.  As a christian, I was taught to be patient, have faith and trust God’s timing. I truly was trying as hard as I could but I will admit it was very difficult at times to hold onto the hope. I was now 34 years old and was not able to give my husband a child. I beat myself up & I cried ALOT.  Mothers day was the hardest for me…….While everyone was celebrating moms, I was doing everything in my power to be a mom. I remember in church one Sunday, they gave a rose to all the moms and I wanted one so badly…….I could not hold back the tears anymore, I did not understand why I was being held back from getting that rose and I questioned God many times 😦 .  To this day, I am very sensitive to the needs of women going through infertility on Mother’s Day. God knew why he was closing a door that I kept trying to force open. I had to learn to Let go and Let God, One of the hardest lessons ever!

Despite this new reality, I LOVED Greensboro and I was happy……..Duane and I were just not meant to be parents…….right now.

My advice to my younger self.

Even when your dreams are on hold, they still reside in your heart and will be rekindled at the right time.
Embrace life’s unexpected detours , When you feel like you are down to nothing …..God is up to something.
Trust in HIS timing
Pray without ceasing
Show grace to the insensitive comments from others regarding “how to get pregnant” and questions about “when are you going to have children”.
Proverbs 3:5,6

Until Next time friends,  Keep living your dreams!





The Seed is Planted in my Heart (cont’ series 2 or 5)

In my early 20’s, the seed was planted.  The love of Retail was formed and the desire to own my own store was engraved in my heart.  Together Duane and I dreamed. We both loved the beach and we both were ambitious and very hard workers. The “Breeden Team” as we jokingly refer to it, was formed.  I dreamed of Opening up my own store at the beach. He was always supportive of my dreams and said he would follow and support me. Keep in mind, Duane had never left home other than vacations. He had never lived anywhere else but he grew up vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and grew quite fond of it.  Our family vacationed in Corolla, North Carolina.

I received an offer to work as an Asst. manager to the new store opening, Westport which is a division of the Dress Barn, in the newly opened outlets of Nagshead. I moved to Kill Devil Hills and rented a cute Beach Box on Stilts. I Loved my first little house and loved adulting. Duane continued to work in management at Jefferson National Bank and would visit every weekend.  In 1989 he received an offer to work at Riggs Reality in Corolla and he accepted. We moved in together and began our life which in the same year he refinanced his jeep and surprised me with an engagement ring! I was thrilled and so excited to accept.   My life was falling into place.  Six months later in October 1990, we were married at the Chapel by the Sea with our friends and family present and our reception at the Nagshead waterfront club.

Until Meeting Duane, I had never touched a computer…..Computers were not the “must have” at this time. Internet did not exist. iPhones did not exist. He was a guru of technology and loved tinkering and taking apart computers. My first Computer was a Texas Instrument and then a IBM desktop with Dos. Remember those? I can remember how intimidated I was learning the computers.  I honestly hated Word processing, wordperfect and felt so inadequate. I liked cash registers not computers!   I needed an updated resume to get a job in NC so I could get there and start mapping out my dream. I needed a business plan to get a loan and I could not afford to have someone do it for me.  I was only making about 12K a year and living paycheck to paycheck. On Duane’s visiting weekends, he would look for jobs and we would scope out possible places to open a store.  The excitement in my heart was embedded deep I could see my new store, I could see me waiting on customers.  It was 24/7 desire or obsession.   Corolla was the place for my first store!  I would dream for days and every waking hour about my store, thinking of names, cutting out pictures from magazines and filing them (the old fashion Pinterest). At this point I remember being frustrated at how to find wholesalers. I had to look for them the old fashion way, there was no internet, there was no AmericasMart for Small folks. Buying Markets as they were called, like today’s Americasmart, Dallas Market and New York,  intimidated and I thought, I would never get in. I thought they were for buyers like The Limited, and  Lord and Taylor. I  never had the desire to go overseas to find product.Becoming a buyer was my second dream in retail or a district manager if owning my own store was not possible.

Vintage photos below: First computer, Bag phones & Old fashion Pinterest

How would I finance this dream? We were living paycheck to paycheck and we did not know any wealthy investors who would take a chance on us.  Finding a bank who believed in a 20-something year old was a bit daunting in itself. I couldn’t let this damper my dream.  I believed I could and I would!  I marched on, planning my store in my head and in my business plan with the help of my husband who had experience with business plans from his eduction and experience at UVA McIntyre School of Commerce.

One year later.  Sometimes even the brightest well thought out plans don’t work out. We were struggling to pay the bills and live. Our salaries combined were defined as very close to poverty level.  Maybe the timing just wasn’t right. Living on the island, we realized once the tourists were gone, many stores had a hard time surviving. Accepting this realization that we did not have the funds and we were not able to make the dream a reality (yet), we moved  back to our “safe zone”, Staunton Virginia.  We both agreed, maybe it is better to open a store in Staunton surrounded by the support of Family and friends. We were thrilled to buy our very first house in Hillcrest, one in which my brother Todd built. He also was a dreamer and broke the mold of a 9-5 and became an entrepreneur building quality homes in Staunton. It must be in our families blood!

No matter where Duane and I went or what we did, we never made the “Jump” until we had something else lined up.  In the 1990’s looking for a job in Staunton involved the help wanted ads, there was no Indeed or Monster to view a job listings.  I answered an ad for a General Manager with a local Business in Staunton in 1991. I was very excited and felt I would be exceptional at this job and as a twenty-something year old, the money was good.  I felt it was the closest I would get to running a small business without actually owning one.  The Virginia Made Shop had proved to be a successful business and it was time for them to expand.  I was on top of the world….empowered and honored that I was chosen.  I gladly accepted the position as General Manager of The Virginia Made Shop and Duane accepted an offer to help out one of the best Businessmen/entrepreneurs in Staunton, Gordon B.

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 12.04.44 PM ~ Apr-21

The Virginia Made Shop owners, Terry and Ginger L., were in the process of growing their business and wanted someone to open a store in Harrisonburg as well as oversee the Staunton store on Rowe Road.  Long story short, I assisted Terry and Ginger with the opening of their second location and it gave me the added experience as well as a small taste of what it was really like to open from the ground up. They taught me a great deal and I am forever grateful.

Unbeknownst to us, change was coming.  One year later almost to the day, Gordon had an opportunity in Greensboro, North Carolina or Washington DC for Duane, An opportunity we could not pass up.  I had never heard of Greensboro, was working my dream job and we had just bought a house. I was never a big city girl, so DC was out of the question for me, we both agreed Greensboro was better suited for us.  I will never forget telling Terry and Ginger.  It was bittersweet. I finally had a job I loved and working for people I admired but my marriage and my vows were rooted in Christ and I knew I had to trust God on this one.

To be continued…..Update the resume and Pack our bags to Greensboro

Advice to my 20 something self

Work hard & have top notch work ethic always

That desire in your heart was put there by God, follow it.

Always steps forward toward your dream even if they are tiny baby steps

Trust Gods timing

Work hard & have top notch work ethic always

Proverbs 16:3 – Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Its ok to JUMP but have a plan. “If you fail to plan…plan to fail”

Until next time, Keep Living your Dream














Building the LTD 7 Puzzle: Teen to Young Adult (series 1 of 5)

How did I come to love retail and start my own business? It is truly a series of puzzle pieces that have formed this career.  Let’s start with my history. As a baby boomer, I have to dig deep, 39 years ago (ouch, that hurts) I was 16 years old, living in Staunton…..It was time for me to get a job……I just wanted to have “my own money”.  My very first job?  The Visulite Theatre.  I was ‘the popcorn girl”. Mr. Spade, owner/manager of both the Dixie and the Visulite hired me and I also worked with a wonderful soul, Peggy, the ticket lady wearing her red and white striped smock. Anyone remember them?  Peggy was so special and we remained in contact through the years until her death.  I have always prided myself with my work ethic and I honestly think this is where the love of working  grew deeper in my heart. I have not stopped since this first job and still prefer to be busy.

Snapshot video sequence

I kept this job, as well as babysitting, until I left Staunton for College. I was a A/B student but Academics was not my favorite.  I knew I had to go to college and I was blessed that my parents were open to allowing me to go out of state as long as I “just went” to college.  I applied to Old Dominion and UNCW and chose the latter. Why UNCW?  Well for those that know me well or as a Facebook Follower, you know the beach is in my heart, so why not study near the beach?  As a Navy Brat, NC stole my heart years before plus my older sister was in Emerald Isle, NC.  To this day North Carolina is still one of my favorite states.

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 12.37.31 PM ~ Apr-4I lived in the dorms for ½ a semester and then got my own place, got a dog, went to school in the morning and worked in the afternoon. I have always worked hard but don’t get me Wrong, I like my down time.  I had 3 different jobs in college, a summer job……you won’t believe this……are you ready?….I was the drive thru girl serving early morning coffee and biscuits at Hardees in Wrightsville Beach (laughing).  In the summer, I would get up at 4 am!  I guess those early mornings got to me and they did not work with my school schedule during the year. “The Plant Place” in Wilmington worked better with my schedule.  This was my very first taste of a privately owned small business.  Until now, I did not realize the impact this job had on my life.  I loved this job. I learned so much about plants, retail gifts and customer service.  I admired Bobby and Bill.  I loved them and what they created.  I worked for them, in 1982  and now looking back, they were exactly where I am with LTD 7, about 5/6 years into their business. We  did not stay in contact but I was so glad to look them up and see they are still VERY successful. An inspiring retail story for sure.

road sign BILLBOARD the plant place-480x390    Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 11.02.18 AM ~ Apr-4

Love for fashion started at a young age……..my family always joked with me saying I never wore anything twice to school. My last job in College was corporate retail working for Casual Corner in our mall.  In all of my retail jobs, I moved up very quickly and knew that serving the public came naturally for me. I started in sales and by the end of graduation was promoted to Asst. Manager.  As a young college grad, I listened to the naysayers and was thinking…..I got a four year degree to work retail? Is this where I want to be?  I let them put doubt in my mind with something I truly enjoyed. I was actually a Criminal Justice Major. I did my senior internship in a halfway home for trouble youth.  Although I loved them dearly, I quickly found that my heart could not handle the emotional rips I felt with each child. Taking them back to their abusive environment for weekend visits was heart wrenching.  I wanted to “adopt” them all and provide the love and security I had when I was growing up.

I also applied for other positions in Criminal Justice, with interviews as a juvenile Probation officer and also with the FBI.  None of these panned out.  As a young adult, making my own money was important to me and I was making more as a retail asst. manager than what they were offering me as a college graduate entering the field of Criminal Justice. I knew I did not want more school….so Casual Corner is where I stayed for another year after college until I figured out the right path for me.

I researched Management/Buying programs in bigger cities and in 1986, I received an offer to move to Atlanta with hopes of entering the Management Training Program for Lord and Taylor@Phipps Plaza.  Atlanta was a big place for a small town girl but I jumped at the opportunity. While living in Atlanta, I met up with a highschool friend, Rebecca, we became roommates and and we explored the ups and downs of young adulthood together.


Lord and Taylor was fun, I quickly became a department manager in the junior dept. it was perfect fit or so I thought. I quickly found I preferred a smaller store atmosphere rather than the large department store……another piece of the puzzle. Funny as it seems, I still prefer to shop independent shops rather than department stores.

I applied and became an Asst. Manager  at The Limited/Perimeter Mall and learned  a great deal with this company. They also owned other popular stores such as Bath and Body Works and Limited Express.  At that time they were doing everything right…..a top rated company and looking back, the one I learned the most from as far as standards and practices in the retail industry.  Enjoying this position and mentoring under my Manger Sonya, I was soon promoted and transferred to Gainesville GA as a Manager of my own Limited Store.  Scared me to death to be the Manager at the ripe age of 23-24 but I was ready and loved it!  As a young adult in corporate retail, getting your own store was an honor and I had to “fake it until I make it” with this one.  I knew customer service like the back of my hand but hiring and firing, payroll, figures and reports at that young age were a bit daunting to me. Remember, I did not study business or finance in college. I grew to love it but I could not have done it without my Assistant manager, Donna, who soon became a lifelong friend.

After more downs than ups in GA, many lessons and more experience to add to my resume, I decided I needed to return to my roots in Virginia. I ended up in Charlottesville back at Casual Corner, Fashion Square Mall. I still was not where I wanted to be emotionally and personally. I was impatient and I was like any other girl in her mid twenties, My friends were all getting married and I was still in a female dominated industry….how would I ever meet the man of my dreams? I know you are laughing but I am keeping it real.  Majority of girls, at that age are searching for Love, if they have not already found it.  I was still searching… I started asking myself questions,  Is retail what I really want to do with my life?  Is Retail a “real” career? Maybe I should try something like Banking! Yep that’s it……I will enter the banking industry!  I am sure my parents were scratching their heads at my job hopping but they let me be, guided me and let me stand tall or let me fall when needed.  In 1988, I was hired by Jefferson National Bank, I started as a Teller and quickly moved into the Marketing Dept…………  where I was asked to fill-in for a co-worker and teach the week long Teller school.  Enter Duane Breeden into my life….. the handsome, born and bred, Charlottesville Management Trainee that was assigned to my class. I am not saying change your career to find a man, this is just the path my life led me on.

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 12.36.21 PM ~ Apr-4

It was frowned upon for Employees to date, so you guessed it, I went back to Casual Corner……..and continued dating Duane.  Its now a family joke that I taught him to count money.  If I had only known how intelligent he was as a UVA Business School graduate in Finance! I would have been very intimidated! But it all worked out and we are now 28 years into our marriage.

At that point in my christian life, I knew about God but I did not “know” God. Although, I asked for him to come into my life as a teen, I strayed and only called upon him when discouraged or in trouble…But he stayed with me and guided me. I listened to that tiny voice within, followed my heart and yes, as crazy as it seems, I did find the man of my dreams but…..there is one change in our family…….. Now Duane controls the money. 😉

As you can see, in my early days of working, I explored, took chances and followed my gut. Its very much like dating….You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.  I remained open and allowed myself to learn from each and every job keeping a mental log of what worked and what did not.

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 10.32.40 AM ~ Apr-6

Advice for my younger self

Don’t be afraid to try new things, be open and allow yourself to grow
Follow your heart, be you and have confidence in your decisions
Each rise and fall is a puzzle piece in your life…. keep building your puzzle
Money is not everything and does not always bring happiness
Pray, listen & let God guide you.
Relax, have fun & be patient, everything is going to be ok.
You are capable & you are worthy
Retail is a career

Stay tuned, for the next ten years, on our next blog.

Living the dream,

Lynne 🙂